Friday, February 26, 2010
Latvia and Lithuania demand stricter arms trade rules in the European Union and NATO in order to prevent the selling of Mistral helicopter ships to Ru
Latvia, Lithuania oppose possible selling of Mistral helicopter ship to Russia
LONDON, February 26 (Itar-Tass) -- Latvia and Lithuania demand stricter arms trade rules in the European Union and NATO in order to prevent the selling of Mistral helicopter ships to Russia.
They made a statement to that effect at the Thursday meeting of EU defense ministers in Palma de Majorca.
“The European Union and NATO should sell armaments and military hardware to countries, which do not pose the risk of regional tensions,” Latvian Defense Minister Imants Liegis said. “Before concluding strategic deals, EU member countries should hold internal consultations on items that may call into question the security of other members,” he noted.
“The European Union and NATO need clearer rules of arms exports,” Lithuanian Defense Minister Rasa Jukneviciene said. She noted that some East European countries, among them Poland, shared the opinion.
Negotiations on Russia’s possible acquisition of a French Mistral helicopter ship continue, but it is not planned to sign any deals during the French visit of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on March 1-3, a high-ranking source in the Russian Defense Ministry said earlier in the day.
“The possible purchase of one ship is being negotiated. If that deal is made, we would like to build another three ships of the series in Russia together with French partners,” he said. “However, it is not planned to sign any agreements during the visit.”
Mistral helicopter ships may considerably increase the combat readiness and mobility of the Russian Navy. The Mistral has the displacement of over 21,000 tonnes, the maximum length of 210 meters, the full speed of 18 knots, the voyage range of 20,000 nautical miles and the crew of 160 men. It is capable to carrying 450 marines (900 on brief voyages) and 16 helicopters, including six based on the deck. The ship holds four light landing cutters or two air-cushion landing cutters. It can carry over 40 tanks or 70 vehicles.